Yesterday morning, I used my weekly Sunday mailbag column to discuss Philly.com’s Jimmy Kempski’s article, where he connected the dots using the re-signings of both Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles high cap hit at the wide receiver position, and quotes from Howie Roseman to suggest that the Eagles may be looking to trade DeSean Jackson.
I felt like Kempski made a pretty good point, but that the Eagles likely would be waiting until next off-season should they choose to trade DeSean, because at that point they would allocate Jackson’s money towards giving Jeremy Maclin a long-term deal. Listening to Howie Roseman’s most recent interview, you wouldn’t get the impression that either of the scenarios are likely.
“When you look at how many offensive plays that you have over the course of the season, there’s a lot of opportunities to spread the ball around, get people involved,” said GM Howie Roseman.”I don’t think you have to look further than when you look at the Denver Broncos and how many options they have in their passing game and how big of an advantage that is when you have guys all around the field and you can get different personnel groups and that’s what we’re looking to do. We’re looking to be an explosive, dynamic offense and when you talk about the skills that he has, Jeremy, certainly he adds to that group.”
(That quote comes from a piece on Birds 24/7, wrapping up the reaction to the Maclin signing.)
I hope that Roseman’s idea of stacking up the receiving core from within, not only leaves enough “opportunities to spread the ball”, but also enough opportunities that a guy like Zach Ertz can reach his full potential in a crowded receiving core. Let’s not forget the Eagles also have LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, and Chris Polk, and the ladder two figure to be even more utilized in 2014.
In general I like the idea of having a ton of weapons, but I just hope that it doesn’t result in DeSean Jackson being upset about his lack of targets in games where Maclin or Cooper (or whatever combination of the receiving core) are tearing up the other defense.
2014 should be a good test of that, and if Jackson’s personality (or Maclin’s) don’t allow the unit to produce at the level that they desire, then the Eagles can make the decision to move on from one of the two without any penalty. (All of Jackson’s $15 million guaranteed will be paid off so the team could either look to trade him or they could release him, and Maclin is a free agent.)
I think Roseman’s plan to give Chip Kelly a continuous stock of elite receivers is a great idea, but he’s foolish if he thinks that he is going to keep Cooper, Maclin, and Jackson all here longterm.
At the end of next season, Maclin or Jackson won’t both be returning. Scenario one is Maclin has a good season, but the Eagles decide to keep Jackson, and Maclin walks. In that scenario the Eagles are going to have to re-do Jackson’s contract to keep him happy. Scenario two is that Maclin “balls out in his prove-it deal”, as he has said he plans on doing, and the Eagles decide to pay him. In a scenario where Maclin gets the big payday, there is no way that the Eagles would be dumb enough to think they could keep Jackson here without re-doing his deal as well. The problem is that they will likely have to pay Nick Foles after next season, and they will still have other needs to financially address. Keeping the three wouldn’t be be financially viable, unless they decide to just let the defense suck.
That means that starting this year, the Eagles need to be able to find some receiving gems in the third and fourth round. That way, when one guy walks, you can make a Patriots-esque transition. That doesn’t mean you have another pro-bowler immediately ready to step in, but at the least they need to be able to have a Julian Edelman to replace Wes Welker.
I don’t think that you need the absolute best players for Chip Kelly to keep this offense elite, but you certainly need above-average players. Nick Foles is the perfect example of this because he doesn’t have the talent of a guy like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but Chip Kelly knows how to put him in the right scenarios to make sure that the things that he is good at (throwing swing passes and not turning the ball over for example) are properly utilized. And Foles’ success, both short and long-term, will be largely dependent on the Eagles continuing to building an ‘Explosive, Dynamic’ receiving core.